Early Warning Signs and Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities

Mind Mind
6-8 6-8
Aditi Dash
2 years ago
Early Warning Signs and Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities


Parenting involves so much more than the words used to define it. Parents go through every possible resource to provide the best for their children because they have their individuality which is set up on different notes than those of adults. This means that their needs, actions, thoughts can be colored in tons of different hues, and understanding them and acknowledging them is “parenting 101”. 


what is learning disability?


That being said, parenting a child with learning disabilities has its puzzles and turns. It could be very different but that does not necessarily mean it has to be scary because, with accurate knowledge and embracing the early signs, parents can devise a helpful plan of action. 

Check out: Role Models for Children with Learning Disabilities




It is an umbrella term covering a range of learning and thinking differences that influence how the brain receives and processes information. It does not mean that they are not intelligent or motivated but simply that their brains are wired differently. Such conditions affect one’s learning process and give rise to reading, writing, maths, reasoning, listening, and speaking problems. If after a persistent effort by a child in a certain area, it is still problematic then it might indicate a learning disability. 


SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS - Some early signs for detection 


  • Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, etc.
  • Difficulty in holding and controlling pencils and crayons.
  • Problems with pronouncing words
  • Trouble learning connection between letters and sounds. 
  • Distinguishing right from left.
  • Trouble learning mathematical concepts and wrong use of symbols
  • Difficulty in concentration 
  • Trouble in memorizing
  • Difficulty to follow directions and routines
  • Misspelling, confusing words with similar sounds.
  • No sense of the concept of time
  • Lack of hand to eye coordination 
  • Lack of organizational skills 




It is imperative to seek professional help for evaluation once the symptoms surface and the child starts struggling daily. A series of tests, interviews, and evaluations are carried. Learning disabilities can be diagnosed through different mediums-


diagnosis of learning disability


Intelligence tests or IQ tests


These evaluations and tests are usually carried by clinical and educational psychologists and psychometrists (individuals who carry out tests and assessments). Tests like Stanford Binet Intelligence Test, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WIPPSI), Differential Abilities Scale (DAS), Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), or Comprehensive Test of Non-verbal Intelligence (CTONI) can be used to assess areas of strengths and weaknesses. 


Achievement tests


These tests focus on reading, writing, and math. These scores can be compared to scores on an intelligence test to determine whether there is a discrepancy between performance level and expected intellectual range. A child with a high score on an intelligence test can still struggle with academic achievements which could be the result of an underlying learning disability.  For example - A score of 111 on an IQ test but a score of 80 in math. Tests like the Wechsler Individual Assessment Test (WIAT),  Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement (WJ), or Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (K-TEA) can be employed. 


Visual-Motor Integration Tests


Visual-motor integration is a process that coordinates the information we receive visually with the motor actions we carry out with our arms, legs, and body. For example - Writing, drawing, catching a ball, etc. Tests like the Bender Visual Motor Gestalt test or Developmental test for Motor Integration can be used. 

visual motor skills


Language Tests


Such tests assess the ability to understand spoken or written language and whether a child can respond verbally to cues. Tests such as Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF) or Test of Language Development are used. 


Different specialists one can refer to for help


  • Developmental psychologist
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Occupational therapist (tests sensory issues)
  • Child psychiatrist
  • Special educator and educational psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Clinical psychologist




Learning disabilities cause impairment in the natural process of development and the following reasons can signify the importance of early diagnosis-


early detection of learning disabilities


  •  Children with symptoms face interference in their basic learning skills of reading, writing, and speaking. 


  • Further, it starts affecting higher cognitive processes such as attention, organization, long or short-term memory, abstract reasoning, time planning, etc. 


  • It is important to acknowledge that the damage is not restricted just to the academic areas as the obstruction in learning processes can affect interpersonal skills, decision-making capacity, and problem-solving. 


  • These difficulties start showing up during early school years and there are many indicators to establish that foundational principles are not being constructed. 


  • In the preschool or primary stage, children are learning to lay foundations for literacy and numeracy learning. Targeted interventions at this stage can allow a child to sustain and accommodate properly in school, work, relationship, or community




undiagnosed learning disabilities


  • Emotional issues due to no support and awareness about the struggles. This can lead to feelings of extreme sadness, frustration, and disappointment.


  • Personality issues - A child growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability can also turn aggressive and blame others which could lead to bigger personality issues. 


personality issues


  • Struggles with any career advancement as basic cognitive skills are underdeveloped and there is avoidance of any activity that involves reading or writing.


  • Depression and anxiety issues as such individuals grow up with educational failures which causes severe embarrassment and negative self-worth. 


  • Inability to engage interpersonally at work, school, or with family as they have difficulty explaining what they want or are unable to learn and pronounce words or respond to questions. 


interpersonal issues


  • Lack of social adjustment and coping skills. Due to the underlying problems with understanding, learning, remembering, and focussing, individuals with learning disabilities can get easily flustered. This hinders socialization or the development of required coping skills. 

Also read: Making Friends When You Have a Learning Disability


Understanding and supporting a child with a learning disability can be an uphill battle but learning about the specific disability and how it affects the behavior can be a game-changer for you and your child. Early and proper diagnosis, timely intervention, and your love and patience. That is all it takes. 


This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.
• learning
• disorders
• disability
• learning disorder